Biblical Theory of Just War Pt. 4


New procedure:  pause discussion until end of class time; also email questions and comments to faithandphilosophy@hotmail.com; microphone for questions/comment time at end

I’m having trouble finding time to build the class website:  http://www.justwarfaith.wordpress.com/   so unfortunately it is not a good resource yet.  Sorry.

meanwhile, http://www.justwartheory.com/ is a great resource

Pacifist Voices; some of their critics; some of their conscripts

Early Church:  photocopy of Allman citing early church voices

Nonresistance a la Herman A. Hoyt (in War:  Four Christian Views)

  • “Nonresistance is one aspect of the biblical teaching on separation from the world”  “be not conformed to this world” (Rom 12:2)  cf ekklesia (Greek word for church, means “called out”)
  • “It becomes clear from the basic injunction on separation that there is a definite separation of church and state according to the divine Word.”  “My Kingdom is not of this world” (Jn 18:36)  see also Jn 17:16, Heb 11: 8-16
  • “Since the church and state belong to separate kingdoms or spheres of operation, the methods for defense and offense should also be different”  “If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews.  But my kingdom is not from the world.” Jn 18:35-36  Hoyt, “This means that believers are not free to employ physical force as a method of warfare.  They cannot ‘war after the flesh: For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal’ (2 Cor 10:3-4). But this is not to depreciate the weapons available to the Christian, for they are ‘might through God to the pulling down of strong holds’ (2 Cor 10:4).”
  • On the basis of points 1-3, it follows that physical violence is forbidden to believers as a method of accomplishing a purpose.  Also Matt 5:38-48 and Hoyt continues, “We are exhorted ‘to walk, even as he walked,’ and to ‘follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree” (1 Pet. 2:21-24)
  • “believers have no right to use physical violence in the propagation of the Christian faith. . . . Whenever the church has turned aside from this equipment [power of the Holy Spirit] and used physical force to enlarge her borders nothing but reproach and ruin has resulted.”
  • “If believers belong to the kingdom of Christ, then they do not belong to the kingdom of the world.  And if it is wrong for believers to employ physical force to advance spiritual interests, then it is also wrong for believers to join the world in the use of physical force to achieve temporal interests.”  again Jn 18:36
  • “Even though believers are forbidden the use of physical force to accomplish a temporal end, they are still obligated to exercise spiritual means to do good and bring blessing to others.”

Holmes (JWT) response:

The lex talionis (Ex 21:24, etc.) says nothing about retaliation, with its vengeful spirit of hatred.  Rather it speaks in context about criminal punishment, about retributive justice.  Retribution, as distinct from retaliation, is society’s means of maintaining a just and peaceful order and of punishing offenders.  As Hoyt indeed acknowledges, the New Testament commits this function to government.  But in reality no discontinuity exists between the principle of lex talionis in the Old Testament and the ‘sword’ of Romans 13:4 in the New. . . The OT law insists on a proportionate response to evil and limits society’s use of force.  What applies to retributive justice must be applied elsewhere:  only proportionate means and limited force are ever permissible—which is precisely what the just war view affirms.

Niebuhr, in “Why the Christian Church is not Pacifist” a Christian Realist argument, seems to concede what JWT must deny
It is very foolish to deny that the ethic of Jesus is an absolute and uncompromising ethic.  It is, in the phrase of Ernst Troeltsch, an ethic of “love universalism and love perfectionism.”  The injunctions “resist not evil,” “love your enemies,” “if ye love them that love you what thanks have you?” “be not anxious for your life,” and “be ye therefore perfect even as your father in heaven is perfect,” are all of one piece, and they are all uncompromising and absolute.  Nothing is more futile and pathetic than the effort of some Christian theologians who find it necessary to become involved in the relativities of politics, in resistance to tyranny or in social conflict, to justify themselves by seeking to prove that Christ was also involved in some of the relativities, that he use whips to drive the money-changers out of the Temple. . . . What could be more futile than to build a whole ethical structure upon the exegetical issue whether Jesus accepted the sword with the words:  “It is enough,” or whether he really meant: “Enough of this” (Luke 22:36)?
later concedes,
We who allow ourselves to become engaged in war need this testimony of the absolutist against us, lest we accept the warfare of the world as normative, lest we become callous to the horror of war, and lest we forget the ambiguity of our own actions and motives and the risk we run of achieving no permanent good from this momentary anarchy in which we are involved. . . .

GEM Anscombe, a JWT and harsh critic of pacifism
Now pacifism teaches people to make no distinction between the shedding of innocent blood and the shedding of any human blood.  And in this way pacifism has corrupted enormous numbers of people who will not act according to its tenets.  They become convinced that a number of things are wicked which are not; hence seeing no way of avoiding wickedness, they set no limits to it.

Pacifism and the respect for pacifism is not the only thing that has led to a universal forgetfulness of the law against killing the innocent; but it has had a share in it

It is not a vague faith in the triumph of the spirit over force (there is little enough warrant for that), but a definite faith in the divine promises, that makes us believe that the Church cannot fail.  Those, therefore, who think they must be prepared to wage a war with Russia involving the deliberate massacre of cities, must be prepared to say to God:  “We had to break your law, lest your Church fail.  We could not obey your commandments, for we did not believe your promises.”

Other grounds for rejecting JWT today, ending up somewhere more dovish, and perhaps de facto pacifists:  empirical, situational, epistemological (skeptical)

Empirical Consequences—just war theories and international laws have proved inadequate

Modern Weaponry
some modern weaponry is inherently indiscriminate:  nuclear, biological, chem, landmines, depleted uranium (DU)

see photocopy of Appendix One of But Was It Just ed, Elshtain  “Modern War and the Christian Conscience” from La Civilta Cattolica,  which argues that JWT has been “plunged into terminal crisis by the advent of modern warfare, which by its very nature involves uncontrollable weapons of mass destruction”

Democracy/Republic ineffective at limiting war to just war—JWT not conceived with democracy in mind
One reason JWT may fail in democracy:  popular rule depends on a free/independent press and a functionally literate citizenry and some seepage of truth to the people

Goering
Naturally the common people don’t want war: Neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.
Lloyd George in 1917:
The thing is horrible and beyond human nature to bear. . . . If people really knew, the war would be stopped tomorrow. But of course they don’t know and they can’t know. The correspondents don’t write and the censors would not print the truth.
Craig Murray
Schanberg [Pulitzer Prize winning journalist] blamed not only the press but also “the apparent amnesia of the wider American public.”  And he added: “We Americans are the ultimate innocents. We are forever desperate to believe that this time the government is telling us the truth.”  As a rule of thumb, if the government wants you to know it, it probably isn’t true.
Who said this?
We now fully expect our politicians to deceive, if not to lie outright; we don’t expect the truth from a television newscaster or a newspaper columnist. We live in a world awash with propaganda and a world changed by the discovery that in a media age such as ours brazen lies often, if not usually, work better than the truth.
Who said this?
In wartime, truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies
Who said this?
It is well said in the old proverb, “A lie will go round the world while truth is pulling its boots on.”
Joseph Goebbels
Think of the press as a great keyboard on which the government can play
Senator James W. Fulbright
The biggest lesson I learned from Vietnam is not to trust [our own] government statements.

Post Christian Nation

Leithart:
Christians do not try to check American power because American Christians are usually devotees of Americanism.   Individual Christians do not have the virtues necessary to function as citizens of God’s imperium because American churches have discipled them to function as citizens of the American imperium instead.  (Between Babel and Beast, pp 110-11)

What are the prospects for our nation restricting itself to just wars if we are increasingly untethered from our moral law giver?

Yoder
If the tradition which claims that war may be justified does not also admit that in particular cases it may not be justified, the affirmation is not morally serious.  A Christian who prepares the case for a justifiable war without being equally prepared for the negative case has not soberly weighed the prima facie presumption that any violence is wrong until the case for the exception has been made.

Discussion Questions

  • What insights from pacifists and their critics can we take?
  • Would you call yourself a pacifist?  Why or why not?  Would you kill a housebreaker without negotiation and not knowing whether he was armed?  Would you kill a housebreaker if he threatened to kill you?  Does your view on housebreaking inform your view on war?
  • Whom to admire more?  A Christian pacifist who dies at the hand of an aggressor rather than defending himself, or a Christian soldier who dies in a foreign land to “defend the American way of life”
  • What is a martyr?  To what extent could a martyr defend himself and still merit the name?  Was Bonhoeffer a martyr?   Could a martyr make a pre-emptive strike?
  • What are the prospects for our nation restricting itself to just wars if we are increasingly untethered from our moral law giver?
  • Does our public dialogue include a robust making of the “negative case” of which Yoder speaks above?  Does the JWT risk become a tool to justify a war that has already been decided on?

Next Week:  Realist/Holy War and Christians

Homework:

Allman, Who Would Jesus Kill? chapter 3

Reinhold Niebuhr “Why the Christian Church is not Pacifist”
found in War and Christian Ethics, ed. Holmes, pg 301

Harold OJ Brown “The Crusade or Preventive War”
found in War: Four Christian Views, ed Clouse, pg 153

“War and Murder” Anscombe essay, to find it google this:  “pdf: war and murder” and choose the first link (from the UCSD Philosophy page)

YouTube:  CrossTalk: Exceptional America?
YouTube:  Myth of Religious Violence William T. Cavanaugh 30 July 2012
“The War You Don’t See”  http://vimeo.com/67739294
YouTube:  “War Made Easy”

“[Christianity] tells me to love my enemies. And I don’t do that and I don’t want you doing it for me either. Go love your own enemies. Don’t be loving mine.  I’ll get on with the business of destroying, isolating, and combating the enemies of civilization.” -Christopher Hitchens

Websites

http://www.justwartheory.com/  ed. Mark Rigstad, professor of philosophy at Oakland University.  The          site includes a wide range of resources from all perspectives

News:  www.theamericanconservative.com/  conservatives here frequently disagree with respect                       to war

http://www.antiwar.com/  an exceptionally-wide ranging site of news including international reporting from NYT, Haaretz, RT, Guardian, Speigel, and much more; and opinion on war, including opinions by former defense workers, veterans, conservatives, liberals, and more

Who said this?
answers to quotes:  Rayburn, Churchill, Spurgeon (often misattributed to Churchill)